What has been the effect on weakening the Camp of Islam and Jihad by spending this $880 billion in Iraq, and how else might it have been spent to weaken that Camp?
For example, some of it could have been spent on the building of nuclear plants (on the model of what the French government has done), on subsidies to solar and wind energy projects, or for mass transit. Suppose $300 billion had been spent on all that?
And suppose some of the rest had been spent on propaganda, broadcasting akin to Radio Liberty and Radio Free Europe, not to tell Muslims how much we like and respect them, nor how well-off Muslims are in our country, but rather to tell other Infidels about Jihad News around the globe (the kind of thing one finds gathered at Jihad Watch every day, but on a much larger scale, disseminated hither and yon).
Or what if the American government had also beamed into Muslim countries the voices of Wafa Sultan and Ali Sina and Ibn Warraq and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, both in English and whatever other languages they choose to broadcast in, about their own “spiritual journey” out of Islam? What if there were, on these satellite channels beamed into Dar al-Islam, discussions by scientists on what is necessary for the development of science — the free and skeptical inquiry so discouraged, even punished, in Islam? What if there were figurative artists and sculptors and art historians discussing their art, and the lack of such means of expression in Islam? What if archaeologists came on to discuss how the civilizations of the Near East were rediscovered not by the Muslims, but by such Westerners as the Assyriologist Austen Henry Layard, and Leonard Woolley at Ur, and a succession of Egyptologists — Champollion, Lepsius, Howard Carter — from everywhere but Egypt itself?
But there is no propaganda campaign. There is no large-scale effort, or even a small-scale effort, or even the hint of serious imposition of taxes by the American government on gasoline and on oil, to do as much damage to OPEC, and to raise the price of oil and gasoline as much as possible, thereby to encourage conservation and new technologies and new sources of energy.
There is only the idiotic squandering of men, money, and matÃ©riel, on and on and on, world without end, in Iraq, to bring “freedom” to “ordinary moms and dads” in the Muslim Middle East, and somehow to make of Iraq a unified state, instead of what we should be wanting, which is to create a permanent fault line between Shi’a and Sunni running north and west of Baghdad, a line that the Sunnis will never acquiesce in.
Oh, it’s a policy all right. It’s Boots on the Ground. It’s soldiers, taught never to question but only to execute. It’s destruction of morale, military (at least among the soldiers who can think for themselves, can take in the nature of Islam, and of Iraq, and of Iraqis) and civilian (ditto). It’s not the way to combat, it does nothing to halt, the instruments of Jihad that really count: Da’wa, demographic conquest, and the money weapon.
It’s a policy begun by those who did not know about Islam and about Iraq, and still refuse to learn. It makes no sense.
Did I mention that in January 2006 the economist Joseph Stiglitz, with a collaborator Linda Bilmes, estimated the cost of the war at between one and two trillion dollars? Or that this past January, Linda Bilmes offered different estimates, based on different assumptions, for the lifetime costs of caring for those wounded in Iraq, and for that alone came up with a separate figure (google “Linda Bilmes” and “Iraq War”) of several hundred billion?
The 2 trillion dollar figure was admittedly calculated on the basis of macroecnomic costs (such as changes in the price of oil) and I left those out of my own figure because I assume that at this point an American withdrawal will not cause the price of oil to go down, given a hoped-for continued instability. On the other hand, as you know, during the eight-year Iran-Iraq War, from 1980 to 1988, the price of oil steadily declined.
I think the war will certainly top one trillion dollars. And the only way to get a return on our investment is to make sure nothing is done by the Americans to prevent those Sunni-Shi’a hostilities from continuing, and having spillover effects elsewhere. We need, we deserve, a return on this fantastic investment.